Heather Knox

2021 Town Council Candidate

Professional Background/Occupation:

Currently I am a substitute teacher for the Telluride School District. I began my profession career in 1997 with Mountain Village Metro District, Telluride Conference Center, under construction. I assisted with marketing, working closely with TSG and Telluride Tourism Board. In 2002, promoted to Conference Center Director, I operated the facility, successfully ensuring groups had a positive experience. I was then promoted to Director of Economic Development, managing the departments of Conference Center, Events, Guest Services, and Marketing, with a departmental budget of $2.4M.

From 2007 – 2013, I operated the Michael D. Palm Theatre, seeking talent, negotiating performance contracts, executing events. I created a new 501(c)3 organization, Palm Arts. Through Palm Arts, I developed the business plan to operate a dance education program, which continues today. As a 501(c)3, Palm Arts can secure special event liquor licenses, which increased facility rentals.

Following my passion, I took the position of Director of EcoAction Partners, working with regional jurisdictions to accomplish sustainability goals. Green Grants Program was developed to support projects reducing GHG emissions. I secured a grant for Town of Ophir to implement a town-wide composting program. In partnership with SMPA, and Energy Outreach Colorado, the Income Qualified weatherization program launched to help lower income families reduce utility costs and reduce GHG emissions.

Length of Time as Town Resident:

I moved to Fairway Four in 1995, living here through 1998. In 1999, I bought land, moved down valley, and built an off-the-grid home. I then moved back to Mountain Village Meadows, Parker Ridge, in 2015; I have lived here ever since. Cumulatively, I have lived in Mountain Village for 9 years.

Previous Political Experience/Specific Qualifications:

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE), Pollution Prevention Advisory Board Assistance Committee (PPABAC): 2016 – current

The Pollution Prevention Advisory Board, and its corresponding Assistance Committee, oversee the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity (RREO) Program, which provides grant funding and rebates that promote economic development through the management of materials that would otherwise be landfilled. Funds are available to support recycling, composting, anaerobic digestion, source reduction, and beneficial use/reuse. Since its inception in 2007, the program has awarded over $25 million to businesses, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and schools and universities to help develop recycling infrastructure and promote sustainable behavior change in communities across Colorado.

The RREO programs consists of Infrastructure Grants, for requests greater than $25K (with no cap), awarding ~$1.8M annually, and Mini-Grants, for requests of $5K - $25K annually, awarding ~$500K. Other CDPHE programs requiring input from the PPABAC include End Market Development Grants, which help organizations create business plans in preparation of applying for an Infrastructure Grant. Additionally, grants for regional studies, and rebates for recycling drop centers are also part of our purview.

The PPABAC consists of 13 individuals representing CDPHE, CO Energy Office, CO Economic Development Office, urban and rural municipalities, and non-profit organizations. The Assistance Committee reviews all RREO grants, rates each following a specific scoring rubric, advocates for projects, and works as a team to come to a consensus on funding recommendations. Those recommendations then move to the Pollution Prevention Advisory Board for final confirmation of grant awards, sometimes with restrictions or further requirements. The PPABAC meets monthly.

Recycle Colorado: Member 2018 - current

I am volunteering for the Recycle CO 2021 Virtual Summit, June 15 – 16, 2021. I am also a Western Slope Recycling Council member.

Town of Mountain Village: Green Team

I have been an active public participant in the Mountain Village Green, with interests in the Solar Initiative Subcommittee and the Composting Subcommittee.

Reasons You Would Like to Serve:

Being a substitute teacher for the Telluride School District, I have a flexible schedule; I can sign up for days I want to work, and I can take off days for council meetings as needed.

I am a Meadows resident. This high-density area houses a significant population of Mountain Village residents. It seems important to have a council that represents the varied demographics of our town.

I have a desire to serve our community. I am a grateful participant in the very generous, MV Farm to Community Program, since its inception. Last summer, I volunteered quite often to staff the weekly pick-up location. It was wonderful meeting the other program participants and seeing their excitement and gratitude for the fresh vegetables, bread, and other healthy items. I really appreciate the Town of Mountain Village for providing this nourishment for my family.

My previous employment for the Mountain Village was invaluable. In the eleven years that I worked for Mountain Village government I was provided many opportunities to learn. Working under the guidance of fabulous Directors of Finance, I learned short and long-term budgeting, and the importance of consistent review of financials to ensure we were meeting our targets. I learned about staff management, working as a team, and encouraging employees to do their best. Mountain Village was a family, and an incredibly supportive employer. Both of my children were born during this time; both were cared for at Mountain Munchkins.

I have witnessed the changes of Mountain Village in the 26-year span that I have been here. I watched the government evolve from MVMD/MVMS, bringing on a Town Council. And MVMS formally separating and becoming TMVOA. In my employment with Mountain Village, I reported to all three entities boards/council. In seeing the changes to the structure of Mountain Village government, I want to be part of its future.

I have seen the impact of national and international economics on Mountain Village, and Telluride tourism in general. In 2001, I was standing in the ballroom of the Telluride Conference Center when the news came that a plane flew into one of the Twin Towers. We did not have attendees in the building, so our staff pulled out a TV and we watched the rest of the tragedy unfold. The fall-out from the 9-11 events changed many things we thought we knew about the world. It also sunk our economy, with tourism going down with it.

Another illustration of this is in 2005/2006 the economy appeared to be thriving. The significant increase of government revenue inspired new ideas on how and what to spend it on. I was given a special project to work on the development of a proposed Mountain Village Adventure Center. This facility would be a joint venture between the Town of Mountain Village and Mountain Village Metro Services (now TMVOA), similar to how the Telluride Conference had been constructed and operated. I had the opportunity to coordinate community meetings with key stakeholders in the planning process. The facility was slated to include an indoor waterpark with numerous water slides, a climbing wall, zip lines, and other family-fun activities. The proposed facility had a ~$30M construction budget and would require an on-going subsidy. The facility never came to fruition due, in large part, to MV Town Council and residents’ vocal concerns about financing it. The banking crash, and recession of 2007, killed the plan completely.

Recently, with Covid haunting every aspect of our lives and economy, it has been exciting to see the adaptations Mountain Village has accomplished to meet safety restrictions, while also enabling businesses to operate (albeit somewhat differently). Seeing our municipality able to quickly pivot to manage this health crisis and incorporate innovative ideas to continue to accommodate our visitors and help our businesses has been impressive.

In conclusion, I would like to serve on the Mountain Village Town Council because I have the time, interest, and commitment to put into this important position.

Other Information You Want to Include:

I have 2 daughters, Zoe and Thea Rommel. Both girls love volleyball, and they play on Telluride School District team. They will participate in Club Volleyball in Grand Junction once Covid restrictions will allow it. They both are also on the TSD track team. Zoe (17) loves to ski, and Thea (15), not so much. Zoe is an excellent student, taking multiple AP classes. She also works part-time at the Tomboy Tavern as a hostess. Thea likes math, art, and Tic Tok. Last summer, Thea worked in Mountain Village for Mountain Adventure Equipment/Black Tie washing bicycles.

When I moved down valley, I joined the Placerville Volunteer Fire Department, being a fire fighter and an EMT from 1999 – 2003. Mountain Village needed more EMTs and because I worked here during the day, I also served Mountain Village EMS as needed.

I really enjoyed being a firefighter. Seeing effects from climate change, 2002 was a dramatic summer. Quoting information from the Colorado Encyclopedia website:

The year 2002 was filled with big fires in the American West brought on by years of sustained drought and fire suppression that resulted in huge buildups of dry fuels. In the spring of 2002, Colorado’s mountain snowpack stood at just 53 percent of its average, and a warm, dry spell in April and May melted away all that moisture before the summer heat arrived in June.

I fought 3 wildland fires in 2002: one at Alta Lakes (relatively small, human caused, but dangerously close to Mountain Village), Burn Canyon (Norwood), and Missionary Ridge (Durango). Besides the Alta Lakes fire, the other two fires entailed camping on site with other fire crews. I learned a lot about fire behavior and the complexity of urban-interface wildland fires.

Once I was pregnant with my first child, I gave up being a fire fighter. I was hoping it was only a temporary leave, but then I had another baby shortly after the first. Having my hands full with 2 children, I let my Fire Fighter 1 and EMT certifications lapse.

Thank you for considering me for Mountain Village Town Council.